On Friday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham passed an order for the lockdown of the western city of Gallup. As per Grisham, due to the rising number of deaths in the surrounding county, which includes part of the Navajo Nation, stronger measures were needed.
As per Grisham’s order, every road into Gallup, which borders the Navajo Nation, is closed, and businesses in the city will be shut down from 5 p.m. through 8 a.m.
Gallup is the seat of McKinley County. Overall, 1,027 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths have been registered in the county, which is the highest for any New Mexico county.
Navajo Nation reservation is the size of West Virginia and has one of the highest COVID-19 fatality rates in the country as compared to the states.
Issuing the order at the request of Gallup’s mayor, Lujan Grisham wrote in her tweet, “The spread of #COVID19 in McKinley County is frightful. Physical distancing has not occurred & is not occurring. Stricter measures are necessary to stop the virus.”
According to the Covid Tracking Project, among the less populous U.S. states, New Mexico has one of the highest death rates due to coronavirus, registering 53 deaths per one million people. Covid Tracking Project is a volunteer group that publishes state data on the pandemic.
The order implies that only two people can board a vehicle, and except for essential trips, residents should stay at home. The order lasts until Monday noon, as per the limits in the Riot Control Act. It will be enforced by city, county, and state police, and offenders may face a potential misdemeanor charge. Plus, the Navajo Nation has a separate 57-hour weekend curfew starting at 8 p.m.
On Friday, Grisham made some relaxation in her previous stay-at-home order in the majority of areas to allow curbside retail pickup, reopening of veterinarian clinics and golf courses, and limited state park reopenings.
Citing “extreme risk of transmission,” Grisham kept her previous order in place for the northwest counties of McKinley, San Juan, and Cibola.